How was George Lucas able to change Empire and Return of the Jedi?

My family is watching Episodes I-VIII on Disney+(VIII is on Netflix) and, of course, the special editions are what is on Disney+, revised even again since DVD and a little bit since Blu-ray.

Anyway, my question is pretty simple. How in the world did George Lucas have permission to make changes and film new sequences for Empire and Return of the Jedi? He didn’t write them or direct them.

I am guessing that this is because he made them outside the DGA and WGA?

It blows my mind that Richard Marquand died and someone else was able to enter his movie and insert that ridiculous dance/music sequence. It not only looked horrible, I am far from convinced Marquand would have approved of the effects or the way it is inserted in the movie(clunky, to be sure).

Irvin Kershner was alive, but Lucas made a lot less changes to that movie.

Anyway, why is Lucas able to change these movies after they were finalized and released in theaters? His name isn’t on them as director or writer.

Because he owned all the rights to them. Being a writer or director doesn’t give you any legal control over the film.

Consider the large number of movies where there’s a controversy because the studio stepped in and mandated an edit over the director’s objections (Brazil) or even fire the director and replace them with someone entirely new (Superman II). This is basically exactly the same thing, except that it took the “studio” (George) 20+ years to make these specific edits.

Technically speaking, until the Disney buyout, the Star Wars movies were independent films.

Lucasfilm didn’t just own them, Lucas paid for them with his own money, using the profits he earned. 20th Century Fox had distribution rights only, not ownership like would be the usual arrangement for a movie with their logo at the start.

Intellectual Property(IP) rights are damn complicated and the Star Wars franchise was an important factor in defining what they really mean, ie, Lucas invented merchandising of that type with Star Wars. And gained full IP rights over them, until transfer.

if the effects could of been done when the movie came out like (jabba in a new hope) they would of been all the changes except a rather infamous one was supposed to be there but was taken out because of taking too much time costing too much money or just couldn’t be done …

I remember before Jedi came out the way of being known as a serious fan was you knew who Jabba was

When a movie wins a Best Picture Oscar, you don’t see the director or writer or actors go up and accept the award. The award is given to the producer. That’s the person (or people) who is considered to “own” the film. Everyone else was just working on the film.

So unless some special contractual agreement is made otherwise, the producer is the person who has the final say on the movie.

George Lucas was not credited as the producer of any of the Star Wars movies. The producers were Gary Kurtz (eps 4 and 5), Howard Kazanjian (ep 6), Rick McCallum (eps 1-3). But these men were all employed by Lucasfilms, so they worked for George Lucas.

He is not on the prequels as an executive producer?

nightshadea, he always intended for there to be exterior windows on interior walls, and for TIE fighters to have yellow squares around them, and for Luke’s lightsabre to change color on the Milenium Falcon?